A TEAM hostel, a promising academy, a new ticket office and a new voice on the PA, the team in fifth position in the league. All true and accurate signs of a lively evolving soccer club. This article should be written in a buoyant optimistic way.
But it isn’t. We all know why. Three consecutive league defeats, and of course to us as footie fans- results matter. Keeping a sense of perspective is of course essential, but is far from easy.
We know the team can play well. Lincoln were demolished. The second half display against Tamworth should have won us the game, and of course we secured victories at Macclesfield and Hereford. Despite this there is a genuine feeling of frustration among Forest Green fans. Why is this?
Firstly we are seeing the same thing happen on too many occasions. Teams are hustling and bustling us out of games. They know how to stop us and are doing that all too easily.
I was not at Wrexham or Mansfield, but I heard David Hockaday’s post match interviews and have been personally present on all other occasions. Certain comments from the manager are becoming all too familiar. Hockaday often states: ‘We were not brave enough, we need to make things happen, we cannot sit back and wait and we need to turn our dominance into goals."
All this is manifestly self-evident. We have seen the team has ability, but in the last three matches they have shown this for 15 minutes (Wrexham) 45 minutes (Tamworth) and not at all on Saturday at Mansfield.
Promotion winning sides impose themselves. This is what FGR must do – more often. We have a player who can help us do this but he is not being used properly.
In his three years at the club Reece Styche has showed he can change matches. This season at Telford and at Gateshead he turned in points winning performances, of course he can be infuriating and his Wrexham display was a disgrace, but day in day out he is the man for a tough occasion.
I cannot understand OJ being used as a substitute and not Reece. I am sure there is more to come from Koroma, but you could defend against him from an armchair, wearing slippers and smoking a pipe.
Against an on song Styche you need to be constantly on patrol, armed with a shot gun and supported by a couple of rottweilers.
We need a more determined attitude from the team as a whole. In 25 years of Conference watching I have never seen the league as strong.
There are no pushovers, and no team can expect to win any game. Bad luck and injuries are excuses, not reasons. You make your own luck and this squad should be strong enough to absorb injuries.
We are now seeing the management being presented with a real challenge. Hockaday has been outstanding in bringing players to the club, and our squad is the strongest ever, but can they do themselves justice? Can they deliver?
On recent evidence the answer is not often enough. Hockaday himself has accurately analysed the problem. He has the tools, now he must do the job.
The FA Cup will be a welcome diversion. We can all dream. Three wins and we could be playing Manchester United. James Collins can tell his colleagues about playing for Havant at Anfield. He knows dreams can come true, but equally we know these dreams can be nightmares. Remember Northampton? Remember Arlesey?
These were wretched occasions, the latter especially.
Then a team Cirencester defeated beat us, and there was nothing positive about our performance. Something happened after the game however. A search began for a new senior goalkeeper. James Bittner had been making too many mistakes and for Matt Bulman replaced the cup-tied who unfortunately sustained a serious injury. Loan keeper Bond filled the gap and ultimately the search was successful. Sam Russell arrived!
The Dartford tie gives us a chance to see the surprise team of the season. There is a photo of one of them in my kitchen – centre-half Mark Arber, a Barnet hero of over 10 years ago. Mark was never swift and will be even less pacey now. We have just the player to take advantage of this. Surely his time has come?